My research interests converge on the broad themes of sustainable agriculture, food security, health, nutrition and social inequalities, with a primary focus in southern Africa.
I have four major areas of research: 1) historical, political and social roots of the food system in northern Malawi; 2) sustainable agriculture, food security and social processes in rural Africa; 3) social relations linked to health and nutritional outcomes and 4) local knowledge and climate change adaptation. My general approach to food systems has been holistic, interdisciplinary and collaborative, drawing from both the natural and social sciences, including collaborations with those working in agricultural and nutritional science, public health and ecology. Most of my research is also applied, community-based and participatory, involving local organizations and community members addressing ways to develop a sustainable food system. In my work, I pay attention to different scales of a problem, as well as the historical roots that shape contemporary realities. I also study discursive framings of food issues, using post-structural and feminist theory as well as political ecology to explore agricultural practices and policies in southern Africa. Concepts drawn from agroecology, public health and international nutrition have also been important in my research. My long-term collaborative research project has shown evidence-based improvement in nutrition, food security and soil management from agro-ecological practices in Malawi and Tanzania.
- Bezner Kerr, R., Young, S., Young, C., Santoso, M., Magalasi, M., Entz, M., Lupafya, E., Dakishoni, L., Morrone, V., Wolfe, D. W., & Snapp, S. (2019). Farming for change: developing a participatory curriculum on agroecology, nutrition, climate change and social equity in Malawi and Tanzania. Agriculture and Human Values. 18.
- Wittman, H., Abson, D., Bezner Kerr, R., Blesh, J., Hanspach, J., Perfecto, I., Fischer, J., & Chappell, M. (2016). A social-ecological perspective on harmonizing food security and biodiversity conservation. Regional Environmental Change.
- Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H., Mambulu, F. N., Bezner Kerr, R., Luginaah, I., & Lupafya, E. (2016). Agroecology and sustainable food systems: Participatory research to improve food security among HIV-affected households in northern Malawi. Social Science & Medicine. 164:89-99.
- Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H., & Bezner Kerr, R. (2016). Land grabbing, social differentiation, intensified migration and food security in northern Ghana. The Journal of Peasant Studies.
- Hwang, T., Ndolo, V. U., Katundu, M., Nyirenda, B., Bezner Kerr, R., Arntfield, S., & Beta, T. (2015). Provitamin A potential of landrace orange maize variety (Zea mays L.) grown in different geographical locations of central Malawi. Food Chemistry. 196:1315-1324.
- Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H., & Bezner Kerr, R. (2015). The relative importance of climate change in the context of multiple stressors in semi-arid Ghana. Global Environmental Change. 32:40-56.
- Bezner Kerr, R., & Nyantakyi-Frimpong, H. (2014). A political ecology of high-input agriculture in northern Ghana. African Geographical Review.
- Bezner Kerr, R. (2014). Lost and Found Crops: Agrobiodiversity, Indigenous Knowledge, and a Feminist Political Ecology of Sorghum and Finger Millet in Northern Malawi. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 104:577-593.
- Bezner Kerr, R. (2012). Lessons from the old Green Revolution for the new: Social, environmental and nutritional issues for agricultural change in Africa. Progress in Development Studies. 12:213-229.
- Snapp, S. S., Blackie, M. J., Gilbert, R. A., Bezner Kerr, R., & Kanyama-Phiri, G. (2010). Biodiversity can support a greener revolution in Africa. PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107:20840-20845.